Thank you New Zealand. Thank you for showing us just what good looks like. Thank you for giving the world optimism that a brighter future is out there. Thank you for putting on the America’s Cup. Thank you to all the volunteers giving up their summer for this. Thank you to the crowds thronging the AC village. Thank you for giving a worldwide audience hope. Thank you for being enthusiastic. Thank you for being encouraging. Thank you for the spectacle. Thank you for hosting this America’s Cup so brilliantly.
I write this from a rain-soaked London on the shortest day of the year, locked down in the highest Tier 4 category with a new rampant, highly contagious strain of Covid ripping through the capital and the country. Turning on the television, we are greeted by a seemingly endless misery and doom. I am fearful to leave my house. I am worried witless about the well-being of my family. I am scared, yes scared, to go out for a walk. The shops are closed. The bars are going to wrack and ruin. The theatres are barricaded shut. The roads are deserted. The economy is going down the tubes. Genuinely people are frightened. We have never seen anything like this before. Friends are dying. A lot of people are sick like never before. This is a nightmare. An unadulterated nightmare.
So what gets you through? Well everyone has their poison. For me, I have several. Exercise puts me in a positive mood. I bought an exercise bike and spend anything up to three hours a day on it. Keeps me off the streets. I walk the dog – he’s such a lovely hound. I play computer games with my son. I am blessed with the best wife who is my rock. We talk. We support. In the words of The Verve: “I’m a lucky man.” We will get through this. I would love to go and see my boat down in Cowes but I can’t. I would love to go to a restaurant but I can’t. The list of restrictions is endless. But we stay positive.
But what gives me hope and encouragement more than anything are the pictures being beamed back from Auckland, free-to-air on YouTube. Getting up at 2am is really not a chore when the entertainment is so inspiring. It’s another world. Through the looking glass stuff. And it’s the smiling faces of the Kiwis, supping a beer or two, cheering on the America’s Cup that really makes it. And it’s the wonderful faces of the kids, dressed in team T-shirts two sizes too big beneath adult hats and layers of sunscreen, faces painted with their national flags, cheering and whooping, free of masks and sanitiser that really brings it home.
I wish I was in New Zealand right now – although I’d probably have a visit from one or two Ineos grinders – but I’d love to be there supping in the sun and atmosphere. A nation at the bottom of the world but at the top of the rankings. It is truly remarkable what you are showcasing.
Yes the America’s Cup is an expensive thing to be putting on right now. Yes there are social issues that need addressing and you are right to question the public money that’s gone into Team New Zealand. But please, be under no illusion of just what’s being achieved here.
New Zealand is presenting itself on the world stage as a beautiful, progressive, intelligent, smart, forward-thinking, quick-to-react, compassionate country rich in culture, heritage and with the best five million people on the planet. A shining beacon in the gloom. Leading the way on the water and off. Exemplary. Where others can’t, New Zealand can.
Thank you New Zealand, this was your time to shine and boy oh boy are you shining.
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